Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The 10 Most Evil Women in the History of the World

This video gives me the creeps. It's hard to fathom how a mother can murder her own children and loved ones. But here are a few that obviously lacked the mothering and nurturing instincts that the rest of us were born with and that God blessed us with. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

Happy Halloween! For the witch in all of us! 

Whatever your driving choice tonight, have fun, and be safe!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

Has it been a crazy week for you too? It certainly has for me. 

So for all you hoydens out there who have catered to husbands, children, your boss, your neighbour, your parents, and myriad others who demand our time, take a break tomorrow.

Sleep in, read a little, stop to rest and enjoy the coffee. Because before you know it, the phone will ring, friends and family will call, and soon, the week starts all over again with the same hectic pace as the weeks before.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

3 motorcycle mamas! And in dresses too!

A reminder to all you hoydens out there to do something fun this weekend with friends and family!

In Canada, this is Thanksgiving weekend, so I wish everyone a happy day shared with family and good food.

And don't forget to work all that turkey off afterwards!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Edgar Allan Poe's Women

Virginia Eliza Clemm

Virginia Eliza Clemm was seven years old when she met her future husband, her cousin, Edgar Allan Poe. At the time, Edgar had been discharged from the army and came to live with the poor family. Little Virginia acted as a messenger between him and a young woman in the neighborhood he had become smitten with. Edgar developed a softness of heart for his devoted little cousin.

Edgar left the family to take a job in Baltimore. While there, poor Virginia’s siblings died and she was left alone with her destitute parents. Protective over his devoted little cousin, Edgar decided to marry her, but she was far too young. Neilson Poe, the husband of Virginia’s half-sister, Josephine Clemm, and newspaper magnate heard about Edgar’s interest in marrying the very young Virginia and intervened by offering to take her in and educate her. This angered Poe who saw it as a blatant attempt by his bitterest enemy to keep him and Virginia apart. So he took pen, a mighty weapon in the hands of such a talented writer, and wrote a heartfelt, emotional letter to Virginia’s mother and father pleading that they allow Virginia to make her own decision. In his letter he offered to take care of them all if they moved to Richmond. 

They agreed and Poe married Virginia in 1836. Edgar was 27 and Virginia was 13. They honeymooned in Petersburg, Virginia. Needless to say, this marriage between first cousins raised more than an eyebrow. Many believed the couple never consummated the marriage, while others surmised Edgar waited until his bride was 16 before bedding her. Nevertheless, but by all accounts, Edgar and Virginia were a very happy, devoted couple. That is, despite his ever increasing dependence on alcohol and stimulants. On one Valentine’s day, Virginia wrote a love poem to her beloved husband:

Ever with thee I wish to roam —
Dearest my life is thine.
Give me a cottage for my home
And a rich old cypress vine,
Removed from the world with its sin and care
And the tattling of many tongues.
Love alone shall guide us when we are there —
Love shall heal my weakened lungs;
And Oh, the tranquil hours we'll spend,
Never wishing that others may see!
Perfect ease we'll enjoy, without thinking to lend
Ourselves to the world and its glee —
Ever peaceful and blissful we'll be

Frances Sargent Osgood

Soon, however, scandal touched their lives. Edgar began to flirt with a young married woman and poetess named Frances Sargent Osgood. Aware of the relationship, Virginia reluctantly encouraged it, often inviting Frances to her home because the woman’s presence seemed to curtail Edgar’s drinking. So everything was tolerable for a while. After all, Virginia knew it was best to keep one’s enemies close. This way she could keep a close on the relationship.

Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet

Enter Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, another writer and poet. She became infatuated with Poe and jealous of Frances. But Edgar had no interest in Elizabeth. He found her love for him loathsome and did all that he could to repel it with scorn. He printed many of her poems to him in a journal of which he edited.

One day, while visiting Poe, Virginia showed the meddling, spiteful Ellet one of Osgood's personal letters to Poe and pointed out some questionable paragraphs. Jealous of Osgood, Ellet took matters into her own hands and contacted her nemesis. She strongly warned the woman to beware of her indiscretions and asked that her own letters be returned by Poe. Osgood did what she could to appease the vengeful Ellet and sent two women to ask Poe for the letters. Angered by their interference, Poe called the women busy-bodies and told them that Ellet had better look after her own letters. He then gathered up all Ellet’s letters and dumped them at her house.

But even with her letters returned to her, still bent on revenge, Ellet asked her brother, Colonel Willaim Lummis, to intervene. Lummis, did not believe that Poe had already returned the letters and threatened to kill him. Hearing this, Poe requested a pistol from his friend Thomas English so he could protect himself. But even English didn’t believe Poe had returned the letters and questioned their existence. Angered at being called a liar, Poe and his friend came to blows. The fight only sparked more gossip over his affair with Osgood.

Unfortunately things didn’t end there. Osgood's husband threatened to sue Ellet unless she formally apologized for her insinuations. This she did, in writing, citing that the letter Virginia had shown her must have been a forgery by Poe because he was intemperate and prone to lunacy. Poe’s enemies were only too eager to put this into print, saying Poe was deranged and insane.

All this deeply affected poor Virginia and she soon began to receive letters about her husband’s affair and indiscretions. She strongly believed the letters were coming from Ellet.
Virginia developed consumption, also known as tuberculosis and her health declined. Soon, she became bedridden. His wife’s illness made Poe depressed. He even wrote that her illness made him insane between “long intervals of horrible sanity.” Virginia’s illness and Poe’s depression drove them into destitution. He sought solace in alcohol. After her death, Poe went into a tailspin. The loss of his wife was more than he could bear. He did not care about anything anymore. Alcohol continued to numb his pain. He regularly visited Virginia's grave, in the dead of night, in the cold snow. His relationship with Osgood had ended when she returned to her husband, but Frances believed that Virginia was the only woman Poe truly loved.



Back Cover Blurb

A writer and his demons. A woman and her desires. A wife and her revenge 

Inspired by literature’s most haunting love triangle, award-winning author Lynn Cullen delivers a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allan Poe, his mistress’s tantalizing confession, and his wife’s frightening obsession . . . in this “intelligent, sexy, and utterly addictive” (M. J. Rose) new masterpiece of historical fiction.

1845: New York City is a sprawling warren of gaslit streets and crowded avenues, bustling with new immigrants and old money, optimism and opportunity, poverty and crime. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is all the rage—the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support two young children after her husband’s cruel betrayal, Frances jumps at the chance to meet the illustrious Mr. Poe at a small literary gathering, if only to help her fledgling career. Although not a great fan of Poe’s writing, she is nonetheless overwhelmed by his magnetic presence— and the surprising revelation that he admires her work.

What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit affair . . . and with each clandestine encounter, Frances finds herself falling slowly and inexorably under the spell of her mysterious, complicated lover. But when Edgar’s frail wife Virginia insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe’s tales. And like those gothic heroines whose fates are forever sealed, Frances begins to fear that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .

My Review

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen is a beautifully rendered story about the two women, Virginia Clemm (wife) and Frances Osgood (mistress) who each deeply influenced Edgar Allan Poe's life. In this biographical historical fiction novel, the author paints a story of deep passionate love, betrayal, duty, and jealousy. Although the novel is entitled Mrs. Poe, I found the stronger focus on Frances rather than Virginia in the story. Both women were well characterized: Virigina weak and sickly, but staunch in her love for her husband, even to the point of bitter jealousy, and Frances who walked a fine line between her broken marriage, the tensely awkward friendship with Virginia, and her passion for Edgar Allan Poe. I liked the women's vastly different personalities - it really added interest throughout the story. 

What fascinated me was that the author, whether intentional or not, managed to capture the dark side of all the characters, just like Poe himself did in all his writings. Coupled with lyrical prose and a fascinatingly complicated love triangle, the book held my attention from start to finish, giving me an insight into the tumultuous life of not only the characters, but of writers and the struggles they faced. This is an excellent novel, albeit perhaps with the author's strong personal interpretation of the facts. An excellent book for those that love biographical novels about women set in Victorian times. Definitely recommended.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

All hail to the girl gangs of school! These reform school beauties look thrilled that the summer is over and they can once more hang out together.

My own gang of friends (we've been together since we were 5 years old are still going strong today! We are nearing our 50th anniversary of friendship.

So reach out today and send a hug out to your long term girlfriends. Alone we are great, but together we are better!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

Ah yes, it's so hard these days to know what is good for you and what isn't. We are bombarded every day with new medical research determining foods that are good and food that is bad.

This week's hoyden seems to have figured it all out for herself. Can't say as I blame her. Who doesn't love a lovely glass of champagne or prosecco every now and then?

Enjoy you week ladies...Remember to let loose your inner hoyden loose every now and again.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hoyden of the Week

This week's salute to the hoydens are for those women who do not hesitate to reach out and grasp for what they want, without hesitation, without regret, without faltering.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Gavotte Dance of Courtesans

The gavotte is a French folk/peasant dance that originated in the region of Dauphiné, France in the 16th century. The distinctive rhythmic dance is danced in a line or circle to music with little springs rather than the sliding of feet as the dancers move alternately to the left and right. It gained popularity and evolved into a kissing dance in the 17th and 18th century French and English royal courts. Later the dance developed into something more formal where the couples exchanged instead of kisses. At the French court in the 18th century, the gavotte was at first stately and later more ornate. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

THE SHE-WOLF OF ROME - the woman they just couldn’t kill


Her mother is remembered by history as a modest and heroic woman.

Agrippina the Younger isn't.

She came from a line of Roman bluebloods; her father was a popular general and politician, while on her mother's side she was great grand-daughter of the Emperor Augustus (the one who defeated Cleopatra) and the adopted grand-daughter of the Emperor Tiberius.

She was born at a Roman outpost on the Rhine, near present day Cologne. When she was 13 she married her second cousin Domitius who, although wealthy, was - according to Suetonius - “a man who was in every aspect of his life, detestable"

When she was 21 the emperor Tiberius died and her only surviving brother, Caligula, became the new emperor. A man who was, in every aspect of his life, degenerate. 

Nevertheless, Agrippina’s star began to rise. Caligula loved his sisters very much; too much. Today he might plea bargain 2-5 years too much.

That same year she gave birth to a boy - Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known to the world today as Nero.

When her husband was congratulated by friends on Nero’s birth, he supposedly replied: "I don't think anything produced by me and Agrippina could possibly be good for the state or the people."
Portentous words. 

When Agrippina's sister, Drusilla, died of fever, Caligula went insane. She was the sister he loved too much most of all. The party was over: Agrippina and her other sister, Livilla, turned on him. They were involved in the Plot of the Three Daggers, a failed attempt to murder Caligula and install Lepidus as the new Emperor. 

Instead, Lepidus was executed and the two sisters had to sell their slaves and (gasp!) jewellery and were exiled.

Caligula. Photograph: Giovanni dall'Orto
When Caligula was finally murdered, Agrippina’s uncle, Claudius, became the new Roman Emperor. Her husband conveniently died and Agrippina returned to Rome, still hungry for the game. She put the moves on an up and coming general called Galba (he later became emperor) but he was a happily married man and told her so. His mother-in-law then gave Agrippina a good slapping in public.

A minor setback. Agrippina’s brother-in-law then divorced her dead husband’s sister  so he could marry her. Yes, really. He was very rich and well connected. 

Even better, he had the good grace to die soon afterwards and leave everything to Agrippina’s son. There were rumours she had poisoned him. Just as there were rumours she had poisoned Domitius.


Two wealthy husbands, both dead; Agrippina was doing very well indeed. Then the empress Messalina was executed for trying to poison Claudius (the leading divorce lawyers in those days was a firm called Hemlock, Henbane and Nightshade.) 

Incredibly, Claudius considered remarrying for a fourth time. Agrippina climbed onto uncle’s lap, incest being a family tradition, so to speak. She persuaded him to marry her. 

Even the Romans considered this immoral.

But this did not deter Agrippina. She consolidated her hold on power by having Caligula’s other ex-wife, Lollia, convicted for sorcery. After her suicide she became the most powerful woman in Rome.

photograph: Kadellar 
She manipulated Claudius into adopting her son, making Nero his successor and depriving his real son, Britannicus, of his heritage. She then married Nero to Claudius’s daughter, Octavia, his step-sister.

There are families in the Ozarks who would frown at this behaviour.

When Claudius tried to renege on this arrangement Agrippina is said to have divorced him with a plate of poisonous mushrooms. She then became a priestess of the cult that deified him after his death. 

Perverse? You decide.

Nero became the next emperor and she hoped he would be her puppet. But now he had everything he didn't want her interfering anymore so she decided to switch her allegiance back to Britannicus.

You guessed it.

Nero had him poisoned at a banquet. For the next 3 years no one in Rome ate anything. Agrippina was forced out of the palace. Nero even took away her bodyguards.

But now he wanted her out of the picture completely. Three times he tried to poison her but each time she had the antidote on hand. So Nero settled on an idea so ingenious it would make even the CIA wince. He rigged his mother’s bed so that when she laid on it a mechanism collapsed the ceiling. Nice idea - but Agrippina had a slave warm her bed for her every night; the poor woman died - working flat out, as it were.

Well before the Titanic, Nero then invented the self sinking boat. He invited her onboard to celebrate the feast of Minerva, and dropped the upper deck on her, but a sofa broke the fall. Nero then ordered the crew to scuttle the ship.

'I wish I hadn't killed Mummy.'
After the sinking, one of Agrippina’s friend shouted out to a rescue boat that she was Agrippina, thinking they would come and save her. Instead they bludgeoned her to death with their oars.
Agrippina meanwhile safely reached the shore.

Losing all patience Nero gave up on dirty tricks and sent three men to stab her at home. Her reputed last words were: Stab me in the womb first, a not too oblique reference to the son who sent her assassins.

If she wanted to prick his conscience, it worked. Having finally murdered his mother, Nero was spooked. He had his mother’s death on his conscience the rest of his life. He suffered recurring nightmares, and saw her ghost so often he hired Persian magicians to scare her away.

Agrippina was a formidable woman. During her life she boasted an impressive list of lovers, including her brother, her brother-in-law, her son’s tutor, her uncle, and according to Suetonius, her son as well.

She once visited astrologers to ask about her son’s future. They told her that he would one day become emperor and kill her. She replied, "Let him kill me, provided he becomes emperor.’ 

She got her wish.

Colin Falconer is the author of the internationally bestselling CLEOPATRA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE and over twenty other novels. 

See more history from Colin Falconer at  


From History and Women

Sunday, February 17, 2013


She was christened Cynthia Ann Parker, but she would have told you her name was Naduah -'Keeps Warm With Us.'

Hers is one of the great love stories of the Wild West - and ultimately one of the saddest.

She was born in 1824, to Silas and Lucy Parker in Illinois. When she was 9 years old the family moved to north-west Texas to follow the American Dream - land and a better life. They went to Fort Parker, established by Cynthia’s grandfather, in what is now Limestone County.

But on May 9, 1836, around a hundred Comanche and Kiowa warriors attacked the fort, killing many of the men, including her grandfather. Cynthia and five other captives were led away. One teenage girl escaped; four others, including her brother John, were later released for ransom.

Cynthia was beaten and treated as a slave at first, but her life improved when she was adopted by a Comanche couple, who raised her like their own. 

While still barely a teenager she married Peta Nakoni, (Camps Alone), a Comanche chieftain. It turned out to be an extraordinarily love match. It was traditional for Comanche chiefs to take more than one wife but he never did. They had three children; the future and famed Comanche chief Quanah Parker; another son Pecos (Pecan), and a daughter Topsannah (Prairie Flower).

A newspaper account from 1846 describes how a trading party led by Colonel Leonard G. Williams came across a tribe of Comanches camped on the Canadian River. Williams offered a ransom of 12 mules and two mule loads of goods to the tribal elders for Parker but he was refused, and in subsequent sightings, Parker would run away and hide to avoid being traded back. The Indians said she loved her husband and children too much to leave them. These reports were not believed.

In the winter of 1860, a small band of Texas Rangers surprised a group of Comanche at a meat camp at Mule Creek on the Pease River; most of the men were away and the raid turned into a massacre of women and children.

The Rangers executed a man they thought was Nakoni but he later turned out to be a Mexican slave. Parker attempted to flee on horseback with her daughter but was captured. 

It was then the Rangers realized that the woman in the deerskin and moccasins had blue eyes and that she might be the missing Cynthia Parker.

When she overheard her name banded around by the Rangers she patted herself on the chest and said, “Me Cincee Ann.” Her fate was sealed.

Cynthia Ann and Prairie Flower were taken back to an army post. While traveling through Fort Worth she was photographed with her daughter at her breast and her hair cut short-a Comanche sign of mourning. She thought that her husband was dead and her sons too.

The story of her ‘rescue’ transfixed the nation. She was treated like a hero. Texas granted her four and a half thousand acres of land and a pension of $100 per year. Her brother, Silas Junior., was appointed her guardian in 1862, and took her home to Van Zandt County.

Chif Quanah Parker
But she never adapted to her new life. She was shuttled from one family to another, often locked in her room to prevent her escaping. In 1863, she heard that her son Pecos had died of smallpox, and a few months later, Prairie Flower died of influenza. She was overwhelmed with grief.

Later she learned to weave and sew and created home remedies from local plants and herbs. But she she rarely spoke much. Broken in spirit and an exile among her own race, she died in 1870 from complications arising from a long and self imposed fast. She never knew that her oldest son, Quanah had become the last Comanche Chief, later to become the principal spokesman of the entire Comanche nation after their defeat.

Footnote: The character 'Stands With A Fist' in Kevin Costner’s 1990 movie 'Dances with Wolves' is based on her.  Cynthia is buried in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 

Colin Falconer is the author of the internationally bestselling AZTEC and over twenty other novels. 

See more history from Colin Falconer at  

From History and Women

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lavinia Fontana

Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614)
 Self-portrait- Lavinia at the clavichord

Here is yet another fabulous lady in history, Lavinia Fontana.  This worldly renowned artist, was born in the late sixteenth century at a time where women had very little clout when it came to expressing themselves through art.  But, lucky for her, her father, Prospero Fontana, was a famous  art teacher at the School of Bologna and therefore commissioned to great works in  in their native city. This made it easy for Lavinia to practice her craft daily- art was everywhere around her.  So it was that Lavinia-even if not male- carried on the family tradition and business of making art for sale.

Bologna being such an avant-garde place to flourish, Lavinia initially painted for the well known nobles of Bologna.  The aristocracy loved her and commissioned her to paint their family portraits.  Besides portraits, Lavinia dabbled in several different genres and one of her trademarks was altar art for churches.  

Word of such great talent soon reached the ears of Pope Clement III where in no time he summoned Lavinia to Rome.  Lavinia was quickly integrated into upper class circles where she was soon sought after by Pope Gregory XIII as well.  Her art naturally progressed onto the more religious type genre and was much favoured by the Church. 

It was indeed a rarity for a female artist of those times to be so well accepted- especially by the Vatican. One can only imagine what it must have been like to have both Popes (Clement III and Gregory XIII) as subjects in all their regalia, posing for her!

Although Lavinia dedicated much of her life to art, she did not remain single.  She met Gian Paolo Zappi while working in her father’s studio.  Another marvel for those times; Lavinia was the bread winner in that household!  Zappi  readily gave up his career to stay at home and take care of their 11 children and also helped Lavinia out as her art assistant. 

Lavinia is known for having produced the largest number of art pieces ever for a woman of the Renaissance. 
 Portrait of a noblewoman, by Lavinia Fontana

A book on Lavinia Fontana, by Caroline P. Murphy:

Another great historical woman of substance!

From History and Women